Benson & Hedges is a British brand of cigarettes that has a long and illustrious history behind it, having changed hands several times over the years. The original parent company of the brand, Benson & Hedges Ltd, was founded way back in 1873 by Richard Benson and William Hedges, who gave their names to the company. In 1885 Richard Benson left the company, while this passed in the control of Alfred Paget Hedges, who had by that time succeeded his father William. The next step in the expansion of the business came in the early 20th century, when it opened up branches in the USA and Canada. Having met with success over the Atlantic the brand’s American branch was bought off by Philip Morris in 1958, thus becoming independent and two years later the Canadian branch was also bought by Philip Morris. With the backing of Philip Morris the brand opened up new paths in cigarette making, being credited with starting the trend of longer cigarettes in the USA, with the launching of its 100’s version.
In the UK, Benson & Hedges Ltd was acquired in 1955 by Gallagher Limited, while since 2007 when Gallagher became a subsidiary of Japan Tobacco, the brand has passed in the ownership of this tobacco giant. However, its headquarters still remain in their original location in Old Bond Street in London, while they are actually manufactured in Northern Ireland for the Irish and the UK markets.
The Benson & Hedges brand has tried and tested many innovative approaches, not only in terms of its marketing and promotion but also in its packaging as well as actual production. In fact, the advertising campaign it had run in the late 1970s is still remembered as very rigorous and flirting with the limits of what was allowed to be said and shown in cigarettes advertisements.
Other innovations include the company’s move in 2007, to change the packaging of its Benson and Hedges special filter variant to Benson and Hedges Gold, using a slightly different formula, while it also launched a Silver Version, which contained less tar and 0.1 less mg of nicotine, and opting to sell this version at a slightly cheaper price. In 2008, Benson and Hedges tried another method to attract the attention of smokers by launching a 14 cigarette pack, alongside its regular 10 and 20 cigarette packs.
In yet another attempt to differentiate its offering, in 2010, Benson and Hedges launched the Edge pack for the 20-cigarette packs of its Gold variation, which was a new style of packaging featuring edged/curved corners.
Besides the numerous versions of cigarettes, Benson and Hedges also sells rolling tobacco. In some markets where it is marketed, the brand is also available in a mentholated version, under the name Benson & Hedges Green, while over its long history it has come out under various different types of cigarette with varying potencies and features, such as Sovereign, Gold Bond, Virginia Red, and Virginia Blue. Currently, the Benson & Hedges brand variants being sold in the UK are the Benson and Hedges Gold, the Benson and Hedges Silver and the Benson & Hedges Gold Superkings.